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Nigerian banks posted marginal profits during lockdown, despite slow economic growth


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THE coronavirus pandemic slowed the growth of the Nigerian economy marginally, yet the nation’s biggest banks remain profitable during the period.

Data released by StatiSense, a Nigerian based data consulting firm with expertise in data analytics in its quarterly banking industry report from July to September showed that the major commercial banks in the country made outstanding profits after taxes.

The top ten earners include Zenith Bank with profits after tax pegged at ₦55.5 billion, Guaranty Trust Bank made profits of ₦48 billion, Access Bank earned ₦41.3 billion, United Bank of Africa, UBA at ₦32.7 billion and First Bank of Nigeria made a profit after tax of ₦18.7 billion respectively.

Others are Fidelity Bank at ₦9.1 billion, Union Bank ₦4.31 billion, Sterling Bank at ₦1.96 billion, Wema Bank at ₦1.15 billion and Unity Bank at ₦543 million.

However, the collective profit after tax in the first quarter of 2020 declared by the 12 commercial banks listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, was stipulated at N260.9 billion.

For ten of the banks, they experienced a drop in profits after taxes to ₦213.3 billion when compared to the first quarter which can be blamed on the onslaught of the coronavirus in March, according to Nairametrics data.

As profits for the commercial banks tumbled, customer deposits according to data obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, increased to an all-time high of ₦36.8 trillion as of July which was up by ₦2 trillion from December 2019.

This indicates the influx of cash deposits by customers into the Nigerian banking chain during the coronavirus lockdown which triggered a new round of foreign exchange speculation.

The CBN had resumed sales of US dollars to licensed Bureau de Change operators in September after the Federal Government opened up international travel following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

There has been limited supply of US dollars to importers and licensed Bureau de Change operators, indicating the perpetual existence of increased demand for the dollars.

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According to data obtained from StatiSense, several banks posted impressive daily profits after taxes.

Between January to September, GTB made N521.2 million Access Bank earned N374.7 million daily, Union Bank gained N55.2 million daily, Wema Bank secured N15 million daily, and Sterling Bank made N27 million daily.

Despite, the cash flow into the banks which is at all-time highs, the interest rates on 3 months treasury bills is a paltry 1.2 per cent compared to 11 per cent rate in 2019.

With the inflation rate at 12.8 per cent, investors in Nigeria’s treasury bills have a whopping -11 per cent in negative real return.

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